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Chesterfield eyes Riparian Trail extension

By: Jim Erickson

Chesterfield’s Riparian Trail cuts through the woods behind Central Park.

The city of Chesterfield could add to its trail system if some developments now pending actually occur.

Legislation for an initial step in extending the Riparian Trail had its first reading at the March 5 City Council meeting. The measure would authorize the city administrator to sign a Transportation Alternative Funds Program Agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

Its second reading and final approval are subject to agreements on several related fronts.

Constructed in 2011 with grant funding, Phase I of the Riparian Trail is a half-mile of crushed stone and boardwalk running through the woods along Chesterfield Creek near the city’s Central Park.

Riparian Trail

The city’s goal has been to extend the trail to Old Chesterfield Road. That project is included in the Chesterfield Bikeable Walkable Plan approved in 2010.

Since then, St. Louis County has resurfaced Baxter Road from Clarkson to Wild Horse Creek roads. Originally, the county had planned to reduce traffic lanes on Baxter from five to three to accommodate two dedicated bike lanes. After Chesterfield officials and many residents voiced concerns about that strategy, a compromise was reached to maintain five lanes on Baxter while the city pursued the extension of the Riparian Trail from August Hill Drive to Wild Horse Creek Road.

The city applied for and received a state Transportation Alternative Program [TAP] grant for $1 million, the maximum funding allowed, to help pay for the extension. The Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District would pay the remainder of the now-estimated $1.54 million total cost due to the new path’s ultimate connection to Old Chesterfield Road and the existing Levee Trail.

In total, the extension measures about nine-tenths of a mile.

Still to be completed are negotiations with Chesterfield Village Inc. because the proposed Riparian Trail extension will be constructed mostly on land CVI now owns.

An agreement with CVI almost eight years ago enabled the city to build the initial Riparian Trail segment, as well as the Lydia Hill-August Hill connection, on land donated by the corporation. In return, CVI received “credits” for open space, tree canopy and other requirements related to future Chesterfield Village developments.

A similar arrangement is anticipated for the extension, but it also would include conveying to the city The Awakening sculpture and the Chesterfield Ridge Center Drive bridge. Officials say without a new agreement, likely in the form of an amendment to the first one, the city will not be able to construct the trail extension.

Also pending is a contract for engineering design and construction engineering services for the extension. Now on hold pending the conclusion of the land agreement with CVI, the engineering contract will require approval by the city council and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The city already has asked for proposals from firms interested in providing the engineering services, has reviewed the credentials of those that have applied and selected the firm of George Butler Associates [GBA] for the project.

GBA is based in Lenexa, Kansas, and has offices in a number of other cities including Chesterfield and O’Fallon. A contract with the company likely will not be executed until an agreement with CVI is in place.

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